Summer babies to be allowed to delay starting school under new education rules

Department for Education to change admissions system so 4-year-olds will be able to wait a year

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It can be a huge worry for parents of only-just 4-year-olds – packing their tiny tots off to school in September and in to a class of robust 5-year-olds. But government has announced that consultation will now take place to allow parents of summer-born babies to delay their little one’s school start for a year.

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At the moment, a child is not legally required to start school until they are 5, but most children enrol the September after they turn 4 – be that in the October of the previous year, or the August just weeks before the start of term, meaning huge disparity between the oldest and the youngest in the classroom.

And under existing rules, parents who have previously delayed their barely-4-year-old’s entry have often been made to skip a year, resulting in their child missing a year of the curriculum and going straight into Year 1 rather than reception.

What do the new rules mean?

Now, under proposed new rules laid out by schools minister Nick Gibb, admissions would be changed so that those children born between 1 April and 31 August could wait until the following year to start in reception, If their parents thought they were not quite ready for full-time education. 

The rules are not yet binding though – the proposal needs to be approved by parliament before the Department for Education can set them in stone.  

While delaying entry might not appeal to all parents, research has found that summer babies can be at a disadvantage academically compared to those born in the autumn, and therefore the oldest in the year group.  

An Institute for Fiscal Studies report found that the differences became most apparent very soon after youngsters began school, and that the gap remained up to GCSE level.  

Parents should should have the right to delay a summer baby’s school start date

In an open letter to local education authorities, Nick Gibb asked that if parents asked to delay their child’s start at school, admissions departments should try to enable it, as the current system often failed to’ agree on what is in the child’s best interests’.

He wrote: ‘As part of our plan to extend social justice and opportunity, we want all children to have an equal chance to excel in school regardless of when they are born. Parents know their children best and we want to make sure summer-born children can start reception at the age of five, if their parents think it is in their best interests.

‘We are going to make changes to admission rules, but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.’

Do you have a summer born baby (or were you one yourself?) What do you think about this proposed change?

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